Press Freedom

silence kills democracy but a free press talks

WAN-IFRA believes that increasing media freedom directly strengthens democracy and human rights and is a foundation of societal development, be it economic, cultural or political. This has been a guiding principle of the organisation for seven decades. Our Media Freedom department promotes Equality, Safety and Stability across a portfolio of work that is engaged with media across its global membership. 

Our work is made possible via major partnerships with the leading media support donors – including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) – as well as generous contributions from our national member associations and individual member companies.

WAN-IFRA applies a dual approach to supporting media freedom: It addresses political and structural constraints to media freedom through advocacy, and applies development to strengthen the capacity and networks of the media and their representative institutions.

WAN-IFRA’s unique position as the global representative for the newspaper industry with a clear human rights mandate is reflected in the organisation’s conviction that financially healthy media is an essential condition for the existence of a free press. Unlike the political, social, educational or judicial sectors of society that are essential for good governance and development, but that are mainly funded from fiscal revenues, the independent media sector carries out its public interest role while at the same time responding to commercial imperatives.

Three press freedom key mandates

In its primary mission to strengthen and support the independent press, WAN-IFRA’s global engagements are aimed at defending press freedom and promoting sustainable, financially viable media, and are aligned under three main strategic mandates: Advocacy, Media Development, and Media Sustainability.


  • Inform the general public of the scale, forms and consequences of press freedom violations worldwide and the necessity of a free and independent press for economic, social, political and cultural development.
  • Build a comprehensive advocacy and action plan to address and lift restrictions to press freedom, advancing freedom of expression as a fundamental condition for democracy and pluralism.


  • Assist media in emerging markets by providing skills and knowledge transfer, together with hands-on consultancy and training opportunities designed around the WAN-IFRA activity portfolio, tailored to the operational realities within the region.
  • Create examples of successful business models that can be implemented by others operating in similar conditions.
  • Identify and create synergies between media professionals in emerging markets and their counterparts in mature markets.
  • Test new business models for media operating in challenging (politically and financially volatile) markets.


  • Facilitate networking and effective cooperation among newspapers and news publishers at a local and global level, to durably share editorial and business know-how and strategies.
  • Contribute to establishing and strengthening national and regional newspaper associations to create permanency in development strategies.
  • Work closely with international partners to conceive and implement truly coordinated and comprehensive media development programs in chosen countries, on the basis of new parameters for judging effectiveness, investment costs and benefits, as well as durability.


Andrew Heslop

Executive Director Media Freedom,  WAN-IFRA

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